The Island Line Trail – Vermont’s Gem

The Causeway (image from http://www.bicycling.com/ride-maps/featured-rides/island-line-rail-trail-vermont)

The Causeway (image from http://www.bicycling.com/ride-maps/featured-rides/island-line-rail-trail-vermont)

It   was originally built to contain the rails for the Rutland-Canadian Railroad which started to operate in 1901 and eventually ceased in 1961. If you try biking the trail, you’d be thankful that the trains stopped because it has been turned into the Island Rail Trail, one of the most scenic multiuse trails in the country today.

image from http://www.theworldgeography.com/2013/11/causeways.html

3.5-mile Stretch (image from http://www.theworldgeography.com/2013/11/causeways.html)

It is not that long. If you’re looking for a heavy work-out, then maybe you should look somewhere else but this 14-mile length of mixed pavement and packed gravel in Vermont which is also known as the Burlington Bikepath will definitely take your breath away. Cyclists and runners alike cruise along the shores of Lake Champlain, between Burlington and South Hero, and are indulged with lovely views of the lake, the surrounding mountains, sailboats, lighthouses and the never shabby sunsets. The trail also has beaches and parks where bikers can stop by to rest and enjoy the scenery.

The trail begins south of downtown Burlington, at the Oakledge Park trailhead on Flynn Street. Going north while skirting along the water, you will pass by beaches and shoreline parks on your way to the Winooski River Bridge. It connects the Burlington Bike Path to the Colchester Causeway.

It is the causeway that is the true jewel of the Island Rail Trail. It is 3.5 miles supported by huge slabs of mottled marble. The American elms are known to have suffered some kind of disease, but the ones that grow here have been spared due to their isolation and they grow happily along the sides of the trail, ushering you along with views of the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Adirondacks of New York, while being surrounded by a vast expanse of open water. It gives you that walking/running/biking on water feeling. If you also happen to be an avid birding and fishing enthusiast, you’ll be glad to know that there are warblers and king fishers, as well as lake out and walleye in the area. Make sure to watch out for the sunset when you are in the causeway. It will be a stunning view that you will never forget.

image from http://adventurousmoms.com/2015/07/biking-the-island-line-rail-trail-in-burlington-vt/

image from http://adventurousmoms.com/2015/07/biking-the-island-line-rail-trail-in-burlington-vt/

Depending on the time of year you’ve picked to visit the trail, your trip does not have to end there. You’ve already done 12.5 miles now, but if you want to complete the journey, you can go across to the island of South Hero through “The Cut.” This gap of 200 feet is closed by a ferry service that riders can take on weekends and holidays. There are groups who are pushing to make the ferry service more consistent, to operate all year round.

Once you have crossed The Cut, the trail goes on for another 1.5 miles before you find yourself in a parking lot, where the trail ends.

image from http://adventurousmoms.com/2015/07/biking-the-island-line-rail-trail-in-burlington-vt/

image from http://adventurousmoms.com/2015/07/biking-the-island-line-rail-trail-in-burlington-vt/

The trail is very popular but, fortunately, it does not get too crowded. Be aware that there are parts of the trail which are not good for road bikes because the trail bed is fairly loose and deep. It is also not recommended to use the causeway during bouts of winds and storms. Remember to bring your camera, too. You’ll want to keep photos, that’s for sure.

Whether you are an average sized rider or a heavier one who wanted to try biking for recreational purposes, commuting, or losing weight, visit Zize Bikes for a line-up of custom made, extra sturdy bicycles for everybody  that can support ALL riders of ALL sizes (up to 550 pounds): www.zizebikes.com

The American River Bike Trail

image from https://sacramentokids.net/2012/05/08/biking-with-kids-in-sacramento/

image from https://sacramentokids.net/2012/05/08/biking-with-kids-in-sacramento/

The American River Bike Trail is also known as the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail. It is a paved 32-mile trail that runners and bikers in the Sacramento area often go to for respite from their urban anxieties. The trail hugs the beautiful American River.

It is also known as the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail after the 19th century explorer, Jedediah Strong Smith, who was the first white American to travel up the California coast. Legend says that he survived three massacres and one bear attack. (Fun fact: He was 32 years old when he passed away and he blazed this 32-mile gem for all of posterity.) What actually happened in the 1800s was that Mr. Smith explored along the river and broke a trail east of today’s Old Sacramento and Folsom. It was later on surveyed and marked by a cycling group called the Capital City Wheelmen around the early 1900s which was eventually abandoned but was rediscovered in the 1970s by cyclists. It was then paved and used by the public.

Photo by Chas Blackford (image from http://www.7x7.com/the-ultimate-sunday-bike-ride-waterside-views-on-the-american-river-tr-1786694471.html)

Photo by Chas Blackford (image from http://www.7×7.com/the-ultimate-sunday-bike-ride-waterside-views-on-the-american-river-tr-1786694471.html)

Back to the present. Today, this trail is used by more than 5 million people every year. It is a lot but most crowds are only expected during weekends and holidays. It starts at the Discovery Park in the downtown area and ends at Beals Point, a portion of the Folsom Lake recreation area. Downstream of Hazel Avenue, the parkway is under the Sacramento County Park System and upstream from Hazel to Folsom Lake, it is a part of the California State Parks.

Accurate mile markers are painted every half mile on the center of the two-lane paved trail. The “0” is at Discovery Park and by the time you’re at Beals Point, you’ll see the “31.” There are dirt trails that are seen along the way. These are actually intended for horseback riders but runners are also welcome. The trail has water fountains, restrooms and telephone booths along the way. There are a few restaurants, too.

Rainbow Bridge in the Folsom area is one of the sights to look forward to, and so are the Folsom Historical Truss Bridge and the triple rainbow structure at Folsom Boulevard. You will also find that there are a multitude of wildlife in the area – more than a hundred bird species, rabbits, deer, turkey and please beware of coyotes, skunks and snakes. Recreation areas dot the trail. You’ll see people who are there for golfing, kayaking, fishing, picnicking, bird watching, etc. You will also find informational signs along the way, most of them refer to the historical events linked to the trail.

image from http://www.7x7.com/the-ultimate-sunday-bike-ride-waterside-views-on-the-american-river-tr- 1786694471.html

image from http://www.7×7.com/the-ultimate-sunday-bike-ride-waterside-views-on-the-american-river-tr-1786694471.html

There are several trail access points and have a small parking fee, but you get access for free if you go in on foot or on a bike. Maps may be acquired online.

image from http://www.biketouringtips.com/bike.journals/SF2CarsonCity/day2.html

image from http://www.biketouringtips.com/bike.journals/SF2CarsonCity/day2.html

Other people use it for recreation but some also go through the trail when they want to ride their bicycles to work. The American River Bike Trail is a treasure to the residents of Folsom and its surrounding areas. They say that it is one of the longest multiuse paved biking and hiking trails in the country. Jedediah Smith must have been in awe when he first walked through the river and the people of Sacramento are sure glad that he chanced upon it.

Whether you are an average sized rider or a heavier one who wanted to try biking for recreational purposes, commuting, or losing weight, visit Zize Bikes for a line-up of custom made, extra sturdy bicycles for everybody  that can support ALL riders of ALL sizes (up to 550 pounds): www.zizebikes.com

Hawaii’s Four Mile Miracle

(image from http://outaloha.com/off-the-beaten-oahu/0413-bike-on-auhu/)

(image from http://outaloha.com/off-the-beaten-oahu/0413-bike-on-auhu/)

There is much more to Hawaii than the water sports it is ultimately famous for. Whether you’re a holiday-goer on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, with zero percent chance of survival in the water, or you just want to tour around in the best way possible, there are plenty of other options for you and biking around Hawaii would be on top of that list.

Like their counterparts in the mainland, the people in Hawaii love the outdoors. They’re more connected to their surroundings, even. Couple that with all the tourists going around the island and the result is heavy traffic. That is why cycling is catching up in Hawaii. Many are now opting to go on foot or on their bicycles. And thank heavens for Hawaii’s established bike path system! Touring paradise on a car would arguably be a poor choice. Your two wheels will surely offer you a more magical experience, in addition to covering more ground.

 The Tree Tunnel | Image by Tasting Travels  	(image from http://www.tastingtravels.com/cycling-around-oahu-hawaii-part-2-off-the-beaten-path/)

The Tree Tunnel | Image by Tasting Travels
(image from http://www.tastingtravels.com/cycling-around-oahu-hawaii-part-2-off-the-beaten-path/)

You may have heard about the famed North Shore – home to world class surf spots – and you may be wondering if you can tour it by bike. The answer is yes. Oahu’s North Shore bike path is also dubbed as a Four Mile Miracle and it stretches from Waimea Bay to Sunset Beach. It is sandwiched between the Kamehameha Highway and the scenic coastline, although separated by a jungle barrier in between. Locals and tourists alike use this winding, asphalt, two-lane bike path so don’t expect to have it all to yourself. Expect mommies pushing baby strollers, runners, skateboarders and other bikers, and surely the salty surfers carrying their boards won’t be absent, either.

There are plenty of bike rental shops to choose from so no worries if you forgot to stash a bicycle inside your luggage. Start your adventure at Waimea Bay.

North Shore’s Rocky Point (Image fromhttps://surfsimply.com/travel/departure-gate-the-north-shore-of-oahu/)

North Shore’s Rocky Point
(Image fromhttps://surfsimply.com/travel/departure-gate-the-north-shore-of-oahu/)

Check out the surfers riding the giants from your bike. Ride east and you’ll come across the scenic Waimea Valley. Look for the botanical gardens and try a dip in the natural pool at the bottom of the Waimea Falls. Many locals also come here for the farmers market to enjoy the fresh food with live music.
Pedal on to Sharks Cove where you can snorkel. It might sound scary but parents come here often to bring their kids for picnics. There are tidepools and a variety of sea life to explore. Watch out for the Hawaiian sea turtles! There are showers and bathrooms available, as well as diners for your gastronomic needs.

The famous Pipeline (image from https://blog.principal.com/2015/07/14/2-easy-steps-to-surf-your-pipeline-like-a-pro/)

The famous Pipeline
(image from https://blog.principal.com/2015/07/14/2-easy-steps-to-surf-your-pipeline-like-a-pro/)

Oahu is also home to the world-famous Pipeline – playground of the crème de la crème of surfers. Around winter, the Pipemasters and other international and local surf competitions are held on this treacherous and shallow reef surf break. You may not be able to surf it but it’ll be an adrenaline-pumping show for you. Bring a camera so you can snap some photos of the daredevils doing their thing!

There are many other eye-catching beaches to pass through in between and you can pick where you’d like to take a rest stop but your Four Mile Miracle experience will end in Sunset beach where you can bask in the little adventure you just completed as you watch the tropical sunset.

Sunset at Sunset Beach | Photo by Jade Eckardt (Image from http://www.10best.com/destinations/hawaii/honolulu/articles/explore-oahu-island-via-the-north-shore-bike-path/)

Sunset at Sunset Beach | Photo by Jade Eckardt
(Image from http://www.10best.com/destinations/hawaii/honolulu/articles/explore-oahu-island-via-the-north-shore-bike-path/)

The North Shore bike path is one of the best and easiest ways to explore Oahu. There’s always something interesting happening there. You better get your shakas on and check it out!

Whether you are an average sized rider or a heavier one who wanted to try biking for recreational purposes, commuting, or losing weight, visit Zize Bikes for a line-up of custom made, extra sturdy bicycles for everybody  that can support ALL riders of ALL sizes (up to 550 pounds): www.zizebikes.com

Tour de Everglades: The Shark Valley Trail

The Shark Valley (image from https://thebeachreview.org/2016/06/15/sunset-bike-ride-in-shark-valley-everglades-national-park/)

You are a local, expecting visitors this summer and you want to be the perfect host. You’re deciding on an itinerary that will impress your guests, fingers-crossed. You are at an impasse on where to take them. But then you suddenly remember the Everglades. How could you forget? It is both lovely and majestic, being the third largest park in the mainland U.S., and its Shark Valley Trail would be the perfect place to tour your guests. You can let them pick whether they want to hike, bike or take the educational tram ride but going by bike is the best way to see the place.

The Shark Valley Trail (image from https://thebeachreview.org/2016/06/15/sunset-bike-ride-in-shark-valley-everglades-national-park/)

The Shark Valley Trail
(image from https://thebeachreview.org/2016/06/15/sunset-bike-ride-in-shark-valley-everglades-national-park/)

The Shark Valley Trail is the located 30 miles west of Miami and about 75 miles east of Naples on US 41, at the entrance of the Everglades National Park off the Tamiami (pronounced “tammy-ammy”) Trail. And no, there are no sharks there. It’s called such because it’s in the Shark River Slough valley. There are several alligator residents, though.

Gators are a common sight (image from http://www.floridarambler.com/florida-bike-hike-trails/everglades-has-best-bike-trail-in-south-florida/)

If you haven’t tried going, then you might have heard about how it could be the best bike trail in South Florida. It is a 15-mile paved loop trail through the park and it is car-free, except for the tram that passes through once in a while, in the opposite direction. For safety purposes, bikers are required to stop while a tram is passing by and are asked to maintain a speed of 25 mph tops.

A Shark Valley Turtle | Photo by Red Hunt Image from http://www.exploretheusa.com/Hike_it_or_Bike_it__Shark_Valley_in_the_Everglades)

Photo by Red Hunt Image from http://www.exploretheusa.com/Hike_it_or_Bike_it__Shark_Valley_in_the_Everglades)

Photo by Red Hunt
Image from http://www.exploretheusa.com/Hike_it_or_Bike_it__Shark_Valley_in_the_Everglades)

Bike rental is available from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM but bringing your own bike is also allowed. And for those who are bringing kids, there are bikes with child seat attachments that are available for rent, too.

All type of bicycles and bicyclists will manage just fine since the trail is flat and smooth. It takes approximately 3 hours to complete, depending on how many stops are taken. The scenery around the trail is too appealing to pass up taking photos.

Your guests will see markers for each mile completed. Halfway through, the observation tower becomes visible. This is a popular stop since going up the 45-feet tower is allowed. When they get to the top, they’ll be greeted by an unforgettable view – the Everglades stretches on for miles in all directions – making the hustle and bustle of touristy Florida seem inexistent. It’s a great spot to watch the sunset, too!

Tell your guests to watch out for the different kinds of wildlife they will encounter along the trail. The creatures seem accustomed to having people around so visitors are able to snap good photos of them. There will be lots of different bird species that will greet them, as well as turtles by the marshes and a handful of deer, too. The prairies will also offer bugs and insects as company, so remind them to bring insect repellent. And tell them not to freak out when they see alligators because these reptiles are have made a home for themselves in the park. Just remind them to keep a safe distance away from the gators and to never feed the wildlife.

 The Observation Tower|Photo by Red Hunt (Image from http://www.exploretheusa.com/Hike_it_or_Bike_it__Shark_Valley_in_the_Everglades)


The Observation Tower|Photo by Red Hunt
(Image from http://www.exploretheusa.com/Hike_it_or_Bike_it__Shark_Valley_in_the_Everglades)

View from the Observation Tower|Photo by Red Hunt (Image from http://www.exploretheusa.com/Hike_it_or_Bike_it__Shark_Valley_in_the_Everglades)

View from the Observation Tower|Photo by Red Hunt
(Image from http://www.exploretheusa.com/Hike_it_or_Bike_it__Shark_Valley_in_the_Everglades)

Here are a few other tips and reminders:
• The park is open 24 hours but the parking lot closes at 6:00 PM

• Arrive early during weekends since the parking lot fills up with the crowd.

• Picnic tables are available at the parking lot. There is no adequate spot to dine in along the trail.

• Admission is $20 for the tram ride and $8 for bikers and trekkers

• November to April is the best time to visit the Everglades National Park. It is when the wildlife viewing is best. Mosquitoes are a real pest in the summer, too.

• For those who do not want to finish the trail, there are no shortcuts, so going back on the same road is the only way to go.

This will definitely be a great experience for your visiting family and friends – and different, too – not the usual beach and theme park tours. What’s more, you will find pleasure in being the perfect bike trail host, too!

Whether you are an average sized rider or a heavier one who wanted to try biking for recreational purposes, commuting, or losing weight, visit Zize Bikes for a line-up of custom made, extra sturdy bicycles for everybody  that can support ALL riders of ALL sizes (up to 550 pounds): www.zizebikes.com

Scampering in Slickrock: Mountain Biking’s Best

Mirror Pool in Slickrock Photo by Steve Mokan (link to http://chasingepicmtb.com/three-days-in-moab-continued-exploring-new-trails/)

Mirror Pool in Slickrock
Photo by Steve Mokan (www.chasingepicmtb.com/three-days-in-moab-continued-exploring-new-trails)

If, by any chance, you find yourself in Moab, Utah, you have plenty of adventure-filled activities to choose from – river rafting, climbing, hiking, camping, among others. But Moah is also known to be The Mountain Bikers Paradise and if you came here with the intention of trying this new terrain on your saddle, you have hundreds of trails to choose from, but never miss the Slickrock Trail. It’s what placed Moab on the map, being (arguably) the best mountain bike trail in the world.

Slickrock Landscape Photo by Steve Mokan (link to www.chasingepicmtb.com/three-days-in-moab-continued-exploring-new-trails)

Slickrock Landscape
Photo by Steve Mokan (link to http://chasingepicmtb.com/three-days-in-moab-continued-exploring-new-trails/)

Ricky Krompton, a popular pro mountain biker form England who travels the world for competitive racing, was just as fascinated when he first biked Slickrock. “I’ve never ridden terrain like this. Never seen something quite this vast in my life.”
As it tops the best- trails lists, it could be a double-edged sword – either your experience could turn out fantastic or downright unpleasant. Before you decide to see what you’re made of and try your mountain bike skills on Slickrock, it’s best if you read on. You’ll need to know everything below.

First, know your history. Slickrock was named as such because back when riding horses was still a thing, the locals who passed this area found out that their horses wearing iron horseshoes and their wagon wheels lined with metal kept on slipping on the surface of the rocks made from petrified sand. But this won’t be a problem for you, for sure. Your rubber tires will grip perfectly on the sharp to rough to polished terrain.

There’s no dirt trail to look for here as you will be biking directly on the rocks. You will be following spray painted white dash lines for the whole 9.6 miles of its lollipop loop. Newbies will find this technical trail difficult, to say the least. This isn’t a trail for total beginners. It could get gnarly. If you’re still doubtful about your skills, it will be helpful if you try out the Practice Loop first. It will be equally difficult but it is only two miles so if you find yourself bailing, you won’t be too far out yet. And hey, the scenery that Slickrock is famous for is still there!

Steep Parts Photo by Steve Mokan (www.chasingepicmtb.com/three-days-in-moab-continued-exploring-new-trails)

Steep Parts
Photo by Steve Mokan (www.chasingepicmtb.com/three-days-in-moab-continued-exploring-new-trails)

Know that some people bring home scrapes as souvenirs from this trail. With how jagged the other parts are, it’s unsurprising. Although, here’s a good piece of advice: there are really steep spots and the best thing to do is to concentrate on staying on your bike. A lot of people second guess themselves and jump off at the last minute. They land on the rough surfaces, or unluckily, on the cacti lying around.

Remember to bring enough water and food because anyone who hangs around in a desert should. Be warned about the crowds. This is a very famous trail, people are bound to flock here. Setting out early in the morning would give you a head start. Also, this will allow you to avoid the midday desert sun. It could get scorching. Summer makes it terribly hot and there’s hazardous ice in the winter. Spring to fall is the best time to visit.

Sunrise on Slickrock Image by Susanne Brüsch (www.pedelec-adventures.com/#!Moabs-Slick-Rock-Trail-on-Haibikes-is-a-Blast/q9x0b/575f29160cf2d021c3fbfed3)

Sunrise on Slickrock
Image by Susanne Brüsch (www.pedelec-adventures.com/#!Moabs-Slick-Rock-Trail-on-Haibikes-is-a-Blast/q9x0b/575f29160cf2d021c3fbfed3)

The ride will take you 2.5 to 3 hours but the terrain is gorgeous. It will be a shame not to allow yourself some time to take in the scenery, too.

Whether you are an average sized rider or a heavier one who wanted to try biking for recreational purposes, commuting, or losing weight, visit Zize Bikes for a line-up of custom made, extra sturdy bicycles for everybody  that can support ALL riders of ALL sizes (up to 550 pounds): www.zizebikes.com

Oregon’s McKenzie River Trail

The perfectly clear waters of the McKenzie River Image by Kristen Fellers (link to www.thebikewife.com/2014/08/the-mckenzie-river-trail)

The perfectly clear waters of the McKenzie River
Image by Kristen Fellers (www.thebikewife.com/2014/08/the-mckenzie-river-trail

There is an ongoing controversy surrounding Oregon’s McKenzie River Trail or the MRT. Bikers all over the United States are fence-sitting between MRT being the best mountain bike trail in Oregon or in the whole country. The only way to end the dispute is to see (and experience) it first-hand. It is highly suggested that you go and see for yourself what the fuss is all about.

You may have not decided yet, but you should know that in 2008, it was dubbed as the #1 trail in the U.S. by Bike Magazine. Since then, it has topped the to-bike lists of tons of pedal pushers. To add, the McKenzie River was designated a National Wild and Scenic River in 1988. This helps safeguard the remarkable clarity of its waters and preserve its ecosystems.

Postcard-worthy stream crossing Image by Kristen Fellers (link to http://www.thebikewife.com/2014/08/the-mckenzie-river-trail/)

Postcard-worthy stream crossing
Image by Kristen Fellers (www.thebikewife.com/2014/08/the-mckenzie-river-trail)

Located east of Eugene, this 26-mile trail runs parallel to (surprise, surprise!) the McKenzie River, which was named after Donald McKenzie, a Scottish-Canadian explorer who headed an exhibition in the area in 1812.

The lava fields (link to http://mountainbikegeezer.com/a-spectacular-ride-on-the-mckenzie-river-trail-however/#foobox-1/1/20111029_095234.jpg)

The lava fields
(www.mountainbikegeezer.com/a-spectacular-ride-on-the-mckenzie-river-trail-however/#foobox-1/1/20111029_095234.jpg)

The bike trail is a clear single-track that runs smooth towards the waters of Clear Lake for the first few miles. From there, the trail splits into 1) the experts-only east fork to your left, which is the more challenging route and leads you through loose lava rock and paths along the edge of the lake and 2) the much gentler road to your right which leads you towards the west, along the cabins of Clear Lake resort.

Through the mossy parts of the MRT (Link to https://www.pinterest.com/pin/133841420148712918/)

Through the mossy parts of the MRT
(www.pinterest.com/pin/133841420148712918)

After Clear Lake, you will need to cross the highway then it leads you into the forest for a challenging trail consisting of rocks, ledges and protruding roots. From there, you’ll pass Sahalie and Koosah Falls. About 9 miles down the trail, you’ll see Tamolitch Pool or the Blue Pool, where you can take a rest, eat your packed food or take photos of its incredibly vibrant turquoise waters. About two miles after, the trail presents lava rocks where some dismount to walk. But don’t fret, from there, it gets easier. There are sections where you slither through trees and on bridges to cross multiple streams.

Cyclists across one of the many bridges on the MRT Photo by JK/Mountain Bike Action (link to http://cyclinggarage.com/photo-of-the-day-the-mckenzie-river-trail/)

Cyclists across one of the many bridges on the MRT
Photo by JK/Mountain Bike Action (www.cyclinggarage.com/photo-of-the-day-the-mckenzie-river-trail)

After 4 to 5 hours of persistent pursuit through the trail, you will feel relieved to emerge into the parking lot filled with other sweaty bikers stretching sore limbs and swapping stories about their MRT experience. Surely, talks of the magnificent views won’t be amiss in the parking lot conversations. These bikers just pedalled through the most stunning scenery.
There’s a loss of elevation of 1,500 feet over the length of the trail. Even though it’s mostly downhill, beginners will find it hard to finish because of the sheer distance of the MRT. This is no joyride. Should you wish to bail while in the middle of the trail, there are a few exit points. Though the trail is clearly marked, check with the ranger station about this ahead of time.

Also, remember to secure your bike needs in Bend or Eugene where the shops are. You’ll need a helmet and if you’re not secure about your skills, elbow and knee pads would be helpful. Pick up a rain jacket, as well. Even the mist from the river will be enough to get you damp. And it’s best to visit during summer when the temperatures are bearable.

The Blue Pool Image by Kristen Fellers (link to http://www.thebikewife.com/2014/08/the-mckenzie-river-trail/)

The Blue Pool
Image by Kristen Fellers (www.thebikewife.com/2014/08/the-mckenzie-river-trail)

Lastly, it’s mostly downhill but remember not to speed through the whole thing. Oregon’s gem will be one of the most beautiful trails that you’ll see and going too fast would be a shame. It’s not a race. Take your time. Happy riding!

Whether you are an average sized rider or a heavier one who wanted to try biking for recreational purposes, commuting, or losing weight, visit Zize Bikes for a line-up of custom made, extra sturdy bicycles for everybody  that can support ALL riders of ALL sizes (up to 550 pounds): www.zizebikes.com

Meeting the Best of SoCal on a Bike

Image by Emanuel Hahn (link to http://www.emanuelhahn.com/blog/)

Image by Emanuel Hahn (www.emanuelhahn.com/blog)

Whether you’re planning to bike your weekend away to shrink that waistline or in the mood to get a huge dose of the California sunshine you missed from working within your cubicle for the past five days, the roads of Southern California is a great place to start. It’s not exactly renowned for being a city that loves its cyclists but it is trying and improving. More roads are gradually being modified to cater to you bike enthusiasts, earth advocates, health aficionados and hobbyists.

One of the most endearing features of this city is that no matter how busy it is, it is neighbors with the Pacific Ocean. Now this might be reason enough for you to grab your bike and check out the California coast but do you know where to start?

Image by Gregg Borodaty (link to http://greggborodaty.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Mile-Marker-Zero.jpg)

Image by Gregg Borodaty (www.greggborodaty.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Mile-Marker-Zero.jpg)

The Marvin Braude Coastal Bike Trail, known as The Strand or the South Bay Bike Path among locals, would be a great option to get going. Taking this multiuse recreational road would mean biking along SoCal’s shoreline along its very own paved bike path. You will pass through a 22-mile stretch of the Pacific Ocean shoreline in the Playa del Rey area, starting from the Will Rogers State Beach through the Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles, ending in the Torrence County Beach. This trail highlights a laidback cruise that will let you immerse in the ultimate beach experience. Cycle through the beautiful beaches, popular surf breaks, volleyball games, million dollar mansions and the carefree California beach crowds in the beloved Santa Monica Pier, Hermosa Beach, Marina del Rey, Venice Beach and other well-known spots.

image from: http://www.shedreamsofalpine.com/blog/2015/7/9/the-marvin-braude-bike-trail-coastal-bike-ride-la-county

image from: www.shedreamsofalpine.com/blog/2015/7/9/the-marvin-braude-bike-trail-coastal-bike-ride-la-county

Others may warn you against taking on this challenge, it will take a good 4 to 5 hours for you finish the whole stretch. But it’s not a race, and you do not have to finish the whole thing. If you have time to spare, this trail should be an adventure where the aim is to enjoy SoCal’s beach culture. They may warn you of how busy the trail is with locals and tourists, but this is exactly why you should go. Unless you’re getting on your bike purely for exercise, you will surely enjoy being among the buzzing crowd enjoying all kinds of beach pursuits. Look forward to seeing volleyball players, surfers, skateboarders, body builders, yachts and their owners’ huge and beautiful houses, bikini girls, beach bummers, street performers, hippies, stoners – you name it! To top it all off, magnificent views of the ocean should seal the deal for you.

image from: http://www.justgoplacesblog.com/15-things-to-do-on-the-venice-beach-boardwalk/

image from: www.justgoplacesblog.com/15-things-to-do-on-the-venice-beach-boardwalk

If you don’t have a bike, there’s no need to worry. There are tons of bike rental places along the trail – along with lots of sites to pick up something to drink and eat in case you need to refuel. The path is mostly flat but is bumpy along a few parts and if you are not big on maps, the clear-signed trail will help you out just fine. It is best if you start out early as the California sun could get really hot, especially in the summer.

After finishing the 22 miles, know that you deserve a pat on the back or an enormous fist bump. You just finished biking through the most iconic places in Southern California!

Whether you are an average sized rider or a heavier one who wanted to try biking for recreational purposes, commuting, or losing weight, visit Zize Bikes for a line-up of custom made, extra sturdy bicycles for everybody  that can support ALL riders of ALL sizes (up to 550 pounds): www.zizebikes.com

Biking through the Mount Vernon Trail

Photograph by Flickr user Leo Boudreau

Photograph by Flickr user Leo Boudreau

Washington D.C. is home to many of the country’s iconic monuments, best museums and, of course, the halls and corridors of the most powerful people of the United States. Every day, employees and tourists alike flock to the nation’s capital, making it hard to miss how busy the D.C. area is. In fact, many studies show that Washington D.C. has the country’s worst traffic and that it will not get any better in the next 30 years.

With this, many commuters will agree that the best way to go around the city is on the two-wheeled, self-propelled bicycle. Whether you’ll opt for a route which will bring you to the metro for a full-on city experience or a more serene track where you can get away from all the noise and stress, the D.C. area boasts plenty of trails for your ride.

One of the most popular bike routes is the Mount Vernon Trail (MVT). This one makes for an incredible dayride and is a favorite of cyclists, runners, roller-bladers and strolling families, which is unsurprisings because of the amazing views that the trail offers. If you want to experience the MVT, it’s best to take a bike which will allow you to cover more ground. This 18-mile stretch rolls parallel both to the western banks of the Potomac River and the George Washington Memorial Parkway, from Theodore Roosevelt Island Park down past Alexandria to the former home of George Washington in Mt. Vernon. In between are the scenic views of the D.C. skyline, its monuments, the water and lush foliage.

Biking through the Mount Vernon Trail

image from: www.got2run4me.com/2013/08/02/where-i-run-mount-vernon-trail

Among the few spots to look out for is Gravelly Point, just north of the Reagan National Airport area – where you can take a break and watch the planes fly right above you and, of course, you can check out the estate of the first president, George Washington, at the end of the trail. They say this is the trail that George Washington took every day from his home to work when he was president. Other points of interest are Old Town Alexandria, Arlington National Cemetery, the National Mall and other parks and wildlife preserves along the way. The 91-acre wilderness is also rich in flora and fauna which you might enjoy.

The terrain is well-maintained and it is generally flat, so beginners won’t find it too taxing. It is near the end where you might break a bit of a sweat since it’s here where you will begin a steep climb to the estate grounds. There are a few parts that are winding and narrow where bikers will have to take caution and even dismount entirely. The MVT also connects with many regional trails including Rock Creek Park, Four Mile Run, Potomac Heritage and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Trail.

Being popular, this trail gets crowded at times so if you want to avoid sharing, consider going out on weekdays and early in the morning. You will have to pass through neighborhoods, too, but the signs are clearly marked so it’s not much of an issue. It is dotted with plenty of drinking fountains and there are spots where you can stop and dine. There are also a number of parking areas but they could get busy on weekends. It is open year-round from 6 am to 10 pm.

 Image by Bernadette N (link to http://stuffigot.blogspot.com/2015/06/gravelly-point-park-arlington-va.html)

Image by Bernadette N
(www.stuffigot.blogspot.com/2015/06/gravelly-point-park-arlington-va.html)

If you’re not in the mood to finish the whole stretch, you can always take advantage of the segments that you prefer. No matter the distance, with the views you’ll get to see on this trail, you can’t help but smile, and even gawk, but watch out for the bugs that might get inside your mouth! Pedal on!

Whether you are an average sized rider or a heavier one who wanted to try biking for recreational purposes, commuting, or losing weight, visit Zize Bikes for a line-up of custom made, extra sturdy bicycles for everybody  that can support ALL riders of ALL sizes (up to 550 pounds): www.zizebikes.com

image from: http://got2run4me.com/2013/08/02/where-i-run-mount-vernon-trail/

image from: www.got2run4me.com/2013/08/02/where-i-run-mount-vernon-trail

Two-Wheel Touring: Biking in New York’s Central Park

Going around New York City on a bicycle might not seem like a great and entirely safe idea. Some cyclists even find it a bit tricky, considering the streets that never seem to run out of pedestrians and vehicles. Does that mean that you shouldn’t do it? Many New Yorkers who have traded in their cars for the eco-friendly two-wheeler might think otherwise.

cycling NYC

Image by Adele Peters (www.fastcoexist.com/3035580/new-york-citys-protected-bike-lanes-have-actually-sped-up-its-car-traffic)

This concrete jungle is turning more and more into a city of bikes. The New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) has been keeping track of the number of cyclists every year since 1984. Their data shows that in the past 10 years, between 2004 and 2014 (the last complete year in the dataset), the number of cyclists has tripled.

Whether it be the cause or the effect, New York has been adding more infrastructure for cyclists such as protected bike lines, bike racks and specialized signs and traffic signals. And you may have noticed those blue bikes scattered around the city, thanks to Citi Bike’s clever bike sharing scheme. No wonder The Big Apple has been named as one of the bike-friendly cities in the world.

With all the benefits attributed to city cycling – saving money, dropping the gym membership, saving the earth from carbon emissions, freeing yourself from the seemingly interminable parking problem – you may want to give it a go. In New York City, the Central Park loops would be a good place to start.

cycling

Image by Solo Traveler (www.solotravelerblog.com/solo-travel-destination-new-york-new-york)

At the heart of Manhattan, this 843 acres, containing meadows, outstanding wildlife, manicured gardens, lush lawns, serene forests, a lake and reservoir and downright interesting and curious people, has 3 routes to choose from – 6.1-miles, 5.2 miles or 1.7 miles. These routes offer terrain for every type of biker, from newbies to intermediate and advanced, with flat roads and hilly spots.

cycling Central Park

Sharing the road in Central Park Image by Suzanne DeChillo for the New York Times (www.nytimes.com/2016/04/25/nyregion/a-nervous-bikers-guide-to-cycling-in-new-york-city.html?_r=0)

You can bring your own bike or if you’re just visiting and do not have your own ride, there are plenty of stations where you can rent a bike, whether for an hour or the whole day. Also, bike tours are offered by the park where an expert can guide you and show you the different landmarks and famous spots. Know that there are paths which have been declared totally car-free, where you don’t have to worry about cars sharing the road with you while some are only closed to vehicles at certain hours of the day.

new york city cycling

Image by Lucy Dodsworth (www.ontheluce.com/2013/10/14/visiting-new-york-on-a-budget)

There’s so much to see in Central Park. You might do double-takes at the street performers or lose your attention to eye-catching sceneries, remember to be careful and be on guard. There are still rules and safety precautions to keep in mind. Watch out for pedestrians – they always have the right of way. Wear a helmet. Earphones out. Ride in a counter-clockwise direction. Never ride on the sidewalk. Install a bell and both tail land head lights for night riding. Watch out for road signs.

Biking in New York need not be a terrifying experience as long as you know the places where you can safely ride, educate yourself on how to bike properly and follow the traffic rules. You may also find that Central Park is just one of the many places in New York you can explore on your two wheels. You might want to discover the others in the near future. Happy riding!

Whether you are an average sized rider or a heavier one who wanted to try biking for recreational purposes, commuting, or losing weight, visit Zize Bikes for a line-up of custom made, extra sturdy bicycles for everybody  that can support ALL riders of ALL sizes (up to 550 pounds): www.zizebikes.com

Cycling Through the Pacific Coast Highway

pacific coast

The Pacific Coast Highway Image by The Fest Blog (www.thefestblog.com/2012/12/wanderlust-pacific-coast-highway.html)

The world-famous Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is one of the most popular roads in the country. It is not called Highway 1 for nothing. Passing along this 147-mile stretch of California coast would mean getting to see sceneries that would take your breath away. We’re talking rugged cliffs, magnificent ocean views, acres of orchards, lighthouses, pine forests, diverse wildlife and all things postcard-worthy.

What will also take your breath away is the challenge of cycling the whole stretch of Highway 1. 40 days of riding your bike, with nothing but a small bag for your supplies and your much needed determination and raw grit is no easy feat. You need to be fit enough to cover 40 to 50 miles a day, depending on how fast you go and the stops that you’d take.

hidden paradise

Hidden Paradise: McWay Falls Image by Andy Blake (www.tripque.wordpress.com/2013/12/26/hidden-paradise-mcway-falls)

This is a dream route for a lot of cyclists out there. If you’re one of them and you want to take on this cycling tour soon, prepare for both agony and ecstasy. Here are a few things to consider before you ride away:

1. PLANNING
A tour like this calls for a thorough plan. Before going, you will need to figure out daily distances, sites to stop for rest and refilling your supplies, the amount of food and water that you’ll be consuming, places to sleep and the necessary gear that you’ll need to bring. There are tons of advice available on the internet – from guesthouses, historic inns, motels, hotels and campsites to local spots where you can pick something to eat and drink. It will also be helpful if you look for information on which way to travel and why, as there will be instances when you can travel along the main highway or pick other known bike routes.

2. GEAR

You will need to have the right bike for a multiday tour like this. Dependable frames, such as those that are made of steel, will remain stable enough to carry you throughout your trip. Also, bike racks for your load will be seriously helpful. Check your tires. There are ones that are puncture-resistant to save you the trouble of getting flat tires. Remember that you’ll be on the road for more than a month. Go see a bike technician to make sure that your ride is as ready as you are!

cycling

Road-ready Image by Darby Roach (www.bikearoundtheworld.org/bike-around-the-world/pacific-coast-highway)

3. FOOD AND WATER

Estimating your food and water for this trip is also necessary. Your water bottle will be your best friend so make sure that it’ll store enough in between refills. This is a well-developed route so there are plenty of areas where you can refill along the way. You might also find electrolyte tablets helpful. They dissolve in water and will help minimize fatigue. For sustained energy, there are heaps of protein bars to choose from and packed sandwiches are good enough for lunch. If you prefer to dine pleasantly, there’s the option of stopping by the restaurants and diners along the road.

This might seem daunting but when you’re already there, taking in the beauty that surrounds you will bring you comfort. You might want to finish with the shortest time possible but you can always choose to take a slower pace and perhaps hop off your bike for a while to enjoy the sights and explore the other spots more. With your supplies all packed and your equipment ready, you’re all set for this big adventure.

Whether you are an average sized rider or a heavier one who wanted to try biking for recreational purposes, commuting, or losing weight, visit Zize Bikes for a line-up of custom made, extra sturdy bicycles for everybody  that can support ALL riders of ALL sizes (up to 550 pounds): www.zizebikes.com

big sur

Big Sur Image by The Portmanteau Press (www.theportmanteaupress.com/the-ultimate-american-road-trip)